Posted: Sept. 13, 2016


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

Nothing more to see here, folks. Just move along until the next election in 2018.

Primary Day in Delaware is done. It was wildly, tantalizingly unpredictable until the end, and it was politically fatal to Dennis Williams, the Democratic mayor, to Tom Gordon, the Democratic executive in New Castle County and to Karen Weldin Stewart, the Democratic insurance commissioner.

In the Democratic congressional primary, the voters hitched themselves to history by putting Lisa Blunt Rochester a step away from becoming the first member of the state's federal delegation to be neither male nor white.

In other statewide races, the Democrats went with Bethany Hall-Long for lieutenant governor and Trini Navarro for insurance commissioner, while the Republicans chose Colin Bonini for governor and Jeff Cragg for insurance commissioner.

Farther down the ballot, the Democrats in Wilmington did not just deny Dennis Williams a second term, they turned the mayoral race into a giant don't-let-the-door-hit-you-on-the-way-out message. He came in fourth in the eight-candidate field, where Mike Purzycki emerged as the winner.

Now that the votes are in, though, it does not take a doctorate in political science to know what comes next, because the 2016 election is a presidential year.

The Democrats have put together such a streak here in presidential years, Delaware looks like something out of Pablo Picasso's blue period.

This one is shaping up to be more of the same. The major political forecasters, like FiveThirtyEight and The Upshot in the New York Times, are collectively predicting there is better than a 90 percent chance that Delaware will go for Hillary Clinton, and the electorate's current proclivities toward straight-ticket voting ought to be enough to carry the Democrats down the ballot.

Sorry, Republicans, but really. There is no reason to linger. Stop looking back longingly at 1988.

For the Republicans deep in denial, though, there is always Return Day, the post-election celebration in Georgetown, the Sussex County seat. When the election results are read aloud, it is just for the home county, which happens to be the most conservative place in Delaware. Donald Trump can win here, and Republicans can still dream.

All right, all right, if people insist on hanging around, there are things to be said about the primary. As messy and topsy-turvy as it was, this was not a Primary Day for the ages.

There was nothing like the angst of the Democratic primary in 2008 between Jack Markell and John Carney, although now it looks like all it decided was who would be the governor first. Nor was there anything as stunning as the Republican primary for senator in 2010 with Mike Castle making like Alice in Wonderland and coming upon a mad Tea Party.

This was reflected in the turnout, which was dreadful, 20 percent for the Democrats and 16 percent for the Republicans.

Still, there was that nod to history. It is on Rochester's shoulders to take Delaware off the list of the three states that have never elected a woman to the Congress, either the Senate or the House of Representatives. Vermont and Mississippi can get ready to eat their hearts out.

Rochester won in stirring fashion, polling 44 percent of the vote. It probably did not hurt that she was the only woman in a six-candidate field, which included Sean Barney and Bryan Townsend as her leading rivals.

Lower on the ballot, the legislative primaries of the day produced no drama. Six sitting legislators challenged, six sitting legislators won, most notably Pete Schwartzkopf, the Democratic speaker.

That is that. With Primary Day over, it sets up what is expected to be not much more than a round of musical statewide offices -- with Carney in line to go from Democratic congressman to governor, Hall-Long from Democratic state senator to lieutenant governor, and Stewart from insurance commissioner to, well, the unemployment office.

In other words, nothing more to see here folks. Just move along to the next election.